1. In celebration of the launch of the new redesigned site, we just gave away a FREE antenna! Click Here to See Who Won!

What is the preferred type of SWR/Watt meter?

Discussion in 'Ham Equipment' started by Need2Know, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. Need2Know

    Need2Know KK4GMU - The Villages, FL

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2012
    Messages:
    128
    Likes Received:
    7
    #1
  2. wavrider

    wavrider W9WDX Amateur Radio Club Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2009
    Messages:
    2,070
    Likes Received:
    306
    Antenna analyzer for the VSWR and whatever watt meter your pocket can afford as most are relative anyway.
    #2
  3. W5LZ

    W5LZ Crotchety Old Bastard

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2005
    Messages:
    6,834
    Likes Received:
    725
    To some extent it's a matter of preference. I like 'cross-needle' meters. They give you alll the information a typical meter is capable of at a glance. I have one of MFJ's VHF/UHF meters but not that particular one. It does just fine. (They didn't make a 'giant' one when I got this one. Oh well.)
    - 'Doc
    #3
  4. Need2Know

    Need2Know KK4GMU - The Villages, FL

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2012
    Messages:
    128
    Likes Received:
    7
    Should I interpret your comment as meaning that all $100 SWR meters are pretty much equal, that you have no preference for the significant design differences between the two meters I referenced, and that the more money that is spent, the less "relative" (i.e. "more accurate") the results of the meter become?
    #4
  5. Needle Bender

    Needle Bender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2010
    Messages:
    920
    Likes Received:
    102
    Better to know the reactance than the swr, but good to know both.
    An MFJ 259B analyzer is about $300 but a most invaluable tool for actually tuning any antenna up to VHF.
    #5
  6. RatsoW8

    RatsoW8 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2009
    Messages:
    2,037
    Likes Received:
    577
    I've been using the MFJ 259B for a long time to initially set up and tune my antennas. Then I've got an LDG AT-600 Pro tuner in line to monitor the SWR and relative output in case anything ever changes.

    If I were going to add a dedicated watt/SWR meter I'd go with the Autek WM-1. Looks well made, accurate and gets decent reviews on eHam.
    #6
  7. Beetle

    Beetle Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Messages:
    2,487
    Likes Received:
    353
    You should look at the specifications for any meter (or anything else) and use that information to select the one that, to YOU, has the best balance of features for the money.
    #7
  8. wavrider

    wavrider W9WDX Amateur Radio Club Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2009
    Messages:
    2,070
    Likes Received:
    306
    Other members answered the question rather well.

    The VSWR just tells you that voltage standing wave ratio, an analyzer has so many other functions than just vswr, and since the antenna is 95% of the station the analyzer is the best investment any op can have in their station, IMO it is.

    As far as a meter for pep or avg or the so called "bird" watts. It is your pocket. Some like the prestige per say of using a bird meter but that is all it is.

    Autek is a great meter. I use several in the shack and all perform well.
    MFJ cross needle meters are ok, many in use and they do work.

    So basically interpret it how you want. The end result is the analyzer will definitely assist in tuning the antenna for the "most efficient radiator possible". The meter is just relevant to see what the power out in watts maybe.
    #8
  9. GnG8d

    GnG8d Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Messages:
    2,037
    Likes Received:
    315
    Really? I can swap out many combinations of slugs in my dual line section for direct reading of forward and reflect, from milliwatts to kilowatts, pep or average, I can use a multiplier board if I don't have the exact slug I need, I can put an Extractor slug in for feeding a scope or AM detector, etc etc. I think it goes way deeper than prestige.
    #9
  10. Need2Know

    Need2Know KK4GMU - The Villages, FL

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2012
    Messages:
    128
    Likes Received:
    7
    I guess my problem is that I don't believe in relative truth, especially for technical equipment. Being a newbie and not an expert, "interpreting how I want" is not of much value. I have to base my unfolding understanding on the clearly stated opinions of those who have been at this hobby for awhile. The most my attempts at interpretation can yield is to help to clarify well intended but not-quite-clear-enough advice.

    To state my opening question more precisely,

    1. Which design do users find most helpful/intuitive/useful: The "cross needle" approach or the dedicated SWR switch/direct meter readout?

    2. For determining SWR for an external antenna hooked up to a 5 watt, 2 meter/70cm HT, are the 2 different SWR/watt meters that I referenced in the $100 range "overkill" for the job or just about right?

    3. Is there a "brand" or "brands" within the above specification that are generally known to be more accurate or cost effective than others?
    #10
  11. Captain Kilowatt

    Captain Kilowatt Professional Amateur Staff Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2005
    Messages:
    11,099
    Likes Received:
    2,706
    As waverider said "some" like the prestige. In the real world of CB or ham MOST people that use a Bird, and only a Bird meter, do so for that reason. The CBer that has a single radio and probably an amp and uses a Bird as his only meter is pretty much doing so for the "I have a Bird" factor. If you have a station covering the spectrum from 160m all the way up to VHF/UHF with various power levels than something versatile like a Bird and a handful of slugs makes perfect sense to have. Myself I just use a diamond SX-1000 as it covers everything from 160m up to 23 cm and I have no amp so that meter is great and has served me for many, many years. I do however plan to buy another meter soon that will cover 6m with a 2 Kw range as I have just obtained an amplifier for that band capable of at least 1 Kw output. I may look at the Diawa cross needle meters as they are decent units. As for the OP question, it really boils down to personal preference among the two you linked too. I have faith in the Diamond SX-1000 that I have but the Diawa series is very good as well.
    #11
  12. GnG8d

    GnG8d Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Messages:
    2,037
    Likes Received:
    315
    Oh yeah, and then there is the frequency coverage too .......


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #12
  13. Need2Know

    Need2Know KK4GMU - The Villages, FL

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2012
    Messages:
    128
    Likes Received:
    7
    Looked at that Autek WM-1, and for $30 more than what I was considering, it looks like it has some nice features, namely the 2 separate meters (SWR/Watts); and the separate unit for plugging in the antenna cable so the main unit sits more securely.

    However, it is only good up to 30 megahertz. My need is from 2 meters through 70cm. The selection is much more limited. Maybe the need for such meters is more limited as well.
    #13


Share This Page